Three things to watch: Big men, pressure D and Tucker
Maryland is suggesting that people not drive to this afternoon's game (please see the previous blog post). The game will be televised, so please be judicious when deciding whether or not to trek to Comcast Center today. As for the game, Maryland will look to continue its strong start to conference play, while North Carolina will look to snap a two-game losing streak. Here are a few things to keep track of during today's contest:
1) Frontcourt rotation. Landon Milbourne, Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory (and James Padgett?) will have their hands full today against the Tar Heels. It's not just that they'll have to try to contain North Carolina forwards Deon Thompson (6-foot-9) and Ed Davis (6-foot-10) -- the Tar Heels' top scoring options -- they'll also have to deal with North Carolina's plethora of size off the bench. Three of the Tar Heels' top reserves are Travis Wear (6-foot-10), David Wear (6-foot-10) and John Henson (6-foot-10). Now, the trio of Milbourne, Williams and Gregory have proven quite capable this of battling against bigger frontcourts, so it's not as if they'll be in new territory. Still, North Carolina ranks No. 1 in the ACC in conference play in rebounding margin (+4.3), so the challenge will be just as critical today. Plus, as Coach Gary Williams noted Saturday, "it's a very deep inside team. Fouls don't really play a part in the way they play in terms of their inside defense."
2) Defensive pressure. North Carolina ranks last in the ACC in conference play in turnover margin (-4.1), which means the Tar Heels will be susceptible to Maryland's press defense. If the Terrapins can jump out front early with some steals and easy transition points, that will make their half-court offensive execution all the more frustrating (and time-consuming) for North Carolina to deal with as the game progresses.
3) Cliff Tucker. The junior reserve guard has been a little quiet as of late, but what better opponent for him to make a resurgence against? Tucker had a great deal of success against the Tar Heels last season, and this year's North Carolina squad is nowhere near as talented as last year's. Obviously, success against a particular opponent doesn't necessarily transfer from one season to the next, but Tucker has proven that he can perform well against the Tar Heels in the past. It sure would help Maryland's cause if he could do so again today.
February 7, 2010; 9:24 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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